MS readies response to Bristol suit

Contract terms fair, claims Seattle giant, so there...

Microsoft's response to Bristol Technology's antitrust action against Microsoft for failing to provide Windows source code as Microsoft had contracted to do, claims that the contact terms are fair, according to sources. A redacted version of the brief is expected to become available today. Bristol, of Danbury, Connecticut, is one of the four licensees of Windows source code (the others are Mainsoft, Insignia and Locus), in the so-called WISE programme (Windows Interface Source Environment) that is intended to make it possible for shrink-wrapped Windows applications to run under Unix and the MacOS. A year ago, Microsoft refused to continue providing Bristol with NT code under the terms of the agreement, except on what Bristol describes as "oppressive, unworkable and unreasonable terms". It is known that Microsoft will not grant any licences to additional companies for access to Windows code. The big issue in the case is the reason for Microsoft's stance, at a time when its legal department had never been so hard pressed. One possible explanation is that Microsoft sees Bristol's Wind/U products as prolonging the life of Unix, and so making it more difficult for NT to take over. Bristol points out that Microsoft has been claiming that the Unix market is shrinking, although Dataquest data suggest that the worldwide Unix market is growing steadily. Bristol was competing with Mainsoft for the non-Intel Unix market. Microsoft says that Mainsoft had agreed to a similar contract as was being offered to Bristol. Bristol has bet the farm on the Microsoft deal, so even if it prevails in court, it could be too late. Bristol has had 23 consecutive profitable quarters. ® click for more stories

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